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GUEST COLUMN: Reflections between Thanksgiving and Christmas

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Pam Terrell Walker, a native of Rome, is a paralegal in Calhoun. Readers may email her at

Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving. Far more than a platform from which to launch us headlong into Christmas, it is to be savored for the great holiday it is.

We went to Amicalola Falls for Thanksgiving and thoroughly enjoyed it. The lodge hosted a traditional Thanksgiving feast, which was mighty good.

The drive to the mountains and back was delightful. Beautiful vistas with a lot of burnt orange color remaining in the leaves.

A park ranger, in the lobby of the lodge, brought out a red tailed hawk and gave a talk all about the hawk. Subsequently, one at a time, he brought out a barn owl and a horned owl. The park ranger entertained us with facts about these raptors and told stories about how they operate in the wild.

We do not often get a chance to see these magnificent birds up close, and it was a great opportunity to learn about them.

Time to decorate for Christmas

We decorated the house for Christmas last weekend. First I got out the Nativity scene. A very pretty ceramic Nativity, I usually put it on the sideboard. First I put down a burgundy drape and then arranged each figure. In so doing, I was reminded of my childhood practice of always putting out the Nativity scene first.

We put up the Christmas tree and got the lights on it, all of which were working. We hung the ornaments on the tree. Among my collection of ornaments are many recycled, painted ones from my childhood. The rest of them are Mama’s Reed & Barton ones. Among those are violins, holly, a scene from Bethlehem, and various other shapes and sizes.

As I placed each ornament on the tree, I was reminded of Mama because of her theory about Christmas ornaments. More about that later.

We decorated the mailbox with greenery, red bows, pinecones, and red berries and red bows. I cannot abide flat bows! These bows had wire in them and are shaped.

In the windows across the front of the house we placed garlands of greenery, red berries and pine cones. Then we put the wreath on the front door.

Mama’s theory about Christmas ornaments

Mama collected Christmas ornaments through the years, most of which I now have. A beautiful collection, many of which are gold and reflect the Christmas lights. The rest of her collection are recycled ornaments we decorated with when I was a child. I quite like her theory about collecting Christmas ornaments.

She’d say, “Christmas ornaments should be collected over many years. There should be various sets of ornaments from which some should be missing.” She explained that, there shouldn’t be any perfect sets. A few ornaments should be missing because, through the years, the children broke one or two.

She recommended that some ornaments be recycled by spray painting them gold and then given to the children to decorate with ribbon, stickers, glitter, and scenes cut from old Christmas cards.

I remember sitting down at the kitchen table with Mama to recycle ornaments. First we covered the table with newspaper. Then we got out glue, glitter, ribbon and stickers and old Christmas cards. In no time we were busily at work decorating the old ornaments. Some of the ornaments were glass bulbs. Some were Styrofoam balls on which I glued scenes cut from the old cards.

Those projects were fun and it gave me something to do.

When we decorated the house for Christmas

Every year, Saturday right after school was out for Christmas, Mama and I would thoroughly clean the house. Then she pulled down the attic door and let me climb up the stairs and hand down all the boxes of decorations to her.

After retrieving all the boxes of decorations, Mama let me put out the Nativity scene. Every year, without fail, that was done first.

That Nativity scene was nothing expensive or elaborate. A cardboard nativity with plastic figures. Many times I dropped and broke one of the wise men…  horrified that his head came off. Mama always patiently glued the head back on.

Mama instructed me to put the Nativity scene on an end table in the living room. The lamps would be off. The Christmas lights would be on. With childlike awe and wonder I looked at the Nativity scene. I looked at the camel in the nativity scene, and wondered if such an animal existed.

I loved the nativity scene, so, Mama gave it to me when I as grown. I still have it.

It is very fitting that I, again this year, continued the practice of setting up the Nativity scene first. That simple act keeps me focused and reminds me continually that Jesus comes first in Christmas. You cannot spell Christmas without Christ.

Enjoy decorating your house for Christmas!

Native Roman Pam Walker is a busy paralegal, and welcomes your email to her at